This Cajun chicken pasta recipe is outrageously tasty with tender pan-fried chicken and a luxurious Cajun cream sauce that has a kick! It's a delicious 30-minute meal.
Try my Cajun Garlic Butter Chicken next if you love this recipe.
Why you'll enjoy it
This Cajun pasta is one of those dishes that seems like it would be super fancy and difficult but is actually so simple to make! To ensure we're delivering maximum deliciousness here, there's Cajun seasoning on the chicken itself as well as in the sauce. It's way better than you'd get at a restaurant and will definitely impress guests.
Spicy cream sauces are the best because the cream helps mellow things out, but you still get that crave-worthy zing and layers of flavor. If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know that our kitchen is a little obsessed with Cajun flavors. They're just so good!
Ingredients for it
- Pasta - I chose shells since they're great little pockets to catch the sauce, but any shape will be fine that you have in stock in your pantry
- Chicken - we're pan frying chicken breasts until golden and then cutting them into strips
- Cajun seasoning - use your favorite brand, but make sure to go for a low or no-sodium variety
- Garlic powder - to infuse more savory goodness
- Flour - for dredging and thickening the sauce
- Olive oil and butter - for frying
- Garlic - add even more than called for if you're a big fan. I always use my garlic press to mince it (no need to peel the cloves).
- Heavy cream - for that luxurious creamy sauce!
- Lemon juice - a touch of acidity and brightness
- Dijon mustard - to help build in even more savory flavor. Don't skip it! It doesn't make the sauce taste mustard-y, so don't worry about that.
- Tomatoes - fresh tomato gives it a bit of extra color, flavor, and texture
- Garnish - optional, but fresh basil, parsley, scallions, and freshly grated parmesan are all recommended for next-level tastiness
- I mention this in the recipe itself since it's important, but many brands of Cajun seasoning contain a significant amount of salt. I used Tony Chachere's No Salt variety for this recipe instead.
- If you need to use a regular variety of Cajun seasoning, I recommend reducing the quantity by about 50% so the overall dish isn't too salty. I like lots of Cajun seasoning in this recipe, so that's why I opt for the lower sodium one!
How to make Cajun chicken pasta
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner cutlets. Season the chicken, then coat it in flour and pan fry in the oil and butter until it's nicely browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
- Make the sauce in the same skillet by adding the remaining butter, garlic, and flour to make a quick roux. Whisk in the cream, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and Cajun seasoning. Stir in the fresh tomato, then cook until slightly thickened.
- Stir in the basil and scallions if using. Toss with drained cooked pasta, and serve with chicken on top.
Tips for success
- I don't recommend subbing the cream for something lower fat because the sauce may curdle (tomatoes and lemon juice are acidic) and it'll take longer for it to thicken up, so use your discretion if you want to make any swaps.
- You don't need to add the fresh basil, parsley, or scallions, but basil especially takes this dish over the top, so I highly recommend it.
- Chicken is cooked through when it's 165F in the thickest part. It can go from undercooked to overcooked in a hurry, so I always recommend using an instant read meat thermometer to test it. It takes like 2 seconds and has definitely made me a more confident cook!
What to serve with this pasta
- A big slice of crusty bread or this garlic bread would be fantastic.
- Try a side salad. If you want to go all-out on the zesty flavors, try this Cajun Panzanella Salad, or make a big Caesar salad with homemade Caesar dressing.
- If you're serving it in the summer, this Grilled Corn on the Cob is a great complement to it.
Leftovers and storage
- This pasta will keep in the fridge in a covered container for 3-4 days.
- Reheat any leftovers over a low heat to prevent the cream sauce from separating, and add a splash more cream if needed.
- This one won't freeze well. Cream sauces don't hold up in the freezer generally.
Have questions about this Cajun chicken pasta recipe? Let me know in the comments below!
Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 8 ounces uncooked pasta
- 2 chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (use a low or no salt variety)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper as needed, to taste
- Flour for dredging + 1 teaspoon flour divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon butter divided
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard optional
- 1 medium tomato chopped small
- For serving: chopped fresh basil, parsley, scallions, and freshly grated parmesan cheese optional, to taste
- Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta and cook it al dente according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, cut the chicken in half lengthwise so you've got 4 thinner cutlets. Season the chicken with the first 1/2 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, the garlic powder, and salt & pepper (go easy on the salt if your Cajun seasoning contains some salt), then coat each piece in flour and shake off any excess.
- To a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Let the pan warm up for a few minutes.
- Cook the chicken for 5 minutes/side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and once it's melted, add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of flour. Let it cook for about a minute, stirring nearly constantly.
- Whisk in the cream, lemon juice, Dijon mustard (if using), and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning.
- Stir in the tomato and let the sauce thicken up a bit (it shouldn't take longer than a few minutes). Add a splash of the hot pasta water if it gets too thick.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet and toss. Stir in the basil/parsley/scallions if using. Taste and season with extra salt & pepper as needed (be generous if your Cajun seasoning doesn't contain any salt). Serve with the chicken sliced on top (or leave each piece whole) and freshly grated parmesan.
- Cajun seasoning can be quite salty, so if you use a regular kind (like Tony Chachere's Original), the recipe will be too salty. If all you have on hand is a regular/salty Cajun seasoning, I recommend reducing the quantity by about 50% so the overall dish isn't too salty.
- Chicken is cooked through at 165F. I use an instant read thermometer to ensure it's perfect every time.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.